How to remove WASP (W4SP) malware from the operating system

Also Known As: WASP (W4SP) information stealer
Type: Trojan
Damage level: Severe

What kind of malware is WASP?

WASP (W4SP) is the name of an information-stealing malware that steals victims' passwords, credit card details, Discord accounts, cryptocurrency wallets, and personal files and sends them to the threat actor. It sends stolen data via a Discord webhook address. WASP has been observed being sold to cybercriminals for $20.

WASP malware detections on VirusTotal

More about WASP malware

Information stolen using WASP malware can be misused to make fraudulent purchases and transactions, steal identities, hijack Discord (and possibly other) accounts, and more. Depending on the type of hijacked accounts, they can be misused to send spam, deliver malware, access sensitive information, etc.

WASP malware has been observed hidden in multiple malicious packages. According to the threat actor behind WASP, this malware is undetectable and protected by great obfuscation. WASP's persistence includes launching itself on a system startup. As we mentioned in the introduction, this malware is sold for $20 (in cryptocurrency or gift cards).

It is known that WASP is promoted on Discord and TikTok (distributed via GitHub repositories hosting malware) and Python packages with malware hidden in them. More details about the distribution of WASP are provided below.

Threat Summary:
Name WASP (W4SP) information stealer
Threat Type Information stealer
Detection Names Alibaba (TrojanPSW:Win64/Stealer.69e7b2c7), ALYac (Trojan.Python.Stealer), ESET-NOD32 (), Kaspersky (Trojan-PSW.Win64.Stealer.gk), Lionic (Trojan.Win32.Stealer.12!c), Full List (VirusTotal)
Symptoms A big part of information stealers are designed to stealthily infiltrate the victim's computer and remain silent, and thus no particular symptoms are clearly visible on an infected machine.
Distribution methods Python packages containing hidden malicious code, GitHub repositories hosting malware, fake apps promoted via Discord and TikTok.
Damage Stolen passwords and banking information, identity theft, stolen Discord data, personal files stored on a computer, and cryptocurrency.
Malware Removal (Windows)

To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
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Information stealers in general

Cybercriminals behind information-stealing malware usually target login information (usernames, passwords, email addresses, user IDs, etc.), credit card details, social security numbers, ID card information, etc. They often use such malware to steal cryptocurrency wallets and various online accounts (e.g., email, social media, and banking accounts).

Information stealers can be designed to extract data by recording keystrokes. In such cases, they log keyboard input (record pressed keys). Also, they can capture screenshots, access clipboard data, perform overlay attacks (e.g., display fake login windows), etc.

Examples of information-stealing malware are RAXNET, Patriot, and AcridRain.

How did WASP infiltrate my computer?

Threat actors have been observed exploiting TikTok's "Invisible Challenge" to distribute WASP malware. In this challenge, users are required to film themselves naked while using TikTok's Invisible Body filter, which replaces the body with a blurry background.

Threat actors exploit the "Invisible Challenge" by offering a fake (trojanized) application that supposedly exposes nude bodies. Users infect their devices with WASP after downloading and installing a fake app. This fake app is promoted via TikTok videos and Discord servers.

Once the Discord server used to trick users into infecting their devices is joined, users see a link to a GitHub repository that hosts the WASP malware.

It is also known that WASP is distributed via Python packages (malicious packages on PyPI) containing hidden malicious code. It means that threat actors behind WASP target both regular users and Python developers.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Download software from reliable sources (official websites and stores). Avoid using P2P networks, shady pages, third-party downloaders, free file hosting pages, and similar sources to download apps or files. Keep the operating system and installed programs updated. Never use third-party tools to update or activate any software.

Do not trust advertisements and links on suspicious web pages. Examine emails containing links or attachments before clicking/opening them. Note that irrelevant emails from unknown addresses often contain malicious attachments or links. If you believe that your computer is already infected, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Bot message on Discord promoting a link to GitHub repository hosting WASP malware:

Bot message on Discord promoting a link to GitHub repository hosting WASP malware

Update 13 February 2023: Threat actors behind the WASP stealer have been observed utilizing the Python Package Index (PyPI) to disseminate the malware. They have uploaded at least five malicious packages containing the WASP stealer, and it is known that these packages were downloaded hundreds of times in total, though these packages have since been removed.

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced IT skills. Combo Cleaner is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
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How to remove malware manually?

Manual malware removal is a complicated task - usually it is best to allow antivirus or anti-malware programs to do this automatically. To remove this malware we recommend using Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.

If you wish to remove malware manually, the first step is to identify the name of the malware that you are trying to remove. Here is an example of a suspicious program running on a user's computer:

Malware process running in the Task Manager

If you checked the list of programs running on your computer, for example, using task manager, and identified a program that looks suspicious, you should continue with these steps:

manual malware removal step 1Download a program called Autoruns. This program shows auto-start applications, Registry, and file system locations:

Autoruns application appearance

manual malware removal step 2Restart your computer into Safe Mode:

Windows XP and Windows 7 users: Start your computer in Safe Mode. Click Start, click Shut Down, click Restart, click OK. During your computer start process, press the F8 key on your keyboard multiple times until you see the Windows Advanced Option menu, and then select Safe Mode with Networking from the list.

Run Windows 7 or Windows XP in Safe Mode with Networking

Video showing how to start Windows 7 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

Windows 8 users: Start Windows 8 is Safe Mode with Networking - Go to Windows 8 Start Screen, type Advanced, in the search results select Settings. Click Advanced startup options, in the opened "General PC Settings" window, select Advanced startup.

Click the "Restart now" button. Your computer will now restart into the "Advanced Startup options menu". Click the "Troubleshoot" button, and then click the "Advanced options" button. In the advanced option screen, click "Startup settings".

Click the "Restart" button. Your PC will restart into the Startup Settings screen. Press F5 to boot in Safe Mode with Networking.

Run Windows 8 in Safe Mode with Networking

Video showing how to start Windows 8 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

Windows 10 users: Click the Windows logo and select the Power icon. In the opened menu click "Restart" while holding "Shift" button on your keyboard. In the "choose an option" window click on the "Troubleshoot", next select "Advanced options".

In the advanced options menu select "Startup Settings" and click on the "Restart" button. In the following window you should click the "F5" button on your keyboard. This will restart your operating system in safe mode with networking.

Run Windows 10 in Safe Mode with Networking

Video showing how to start Windows 10 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

manual malware removal step 3Extract the downloaded archive and run the Autoruns.exe file.

Extract Autoruns.zip archive and run Autoruns.exe application

manual malware removal step 4In the Autoruns application, click "Options" at the top and uncheck "Hide Empty Locations" and "Hide Windows Entries" options. After this procedure, click the "Refresh" icon.

Refresh Autoruns application results

manual malware removal step 5Check the list provided by the Autoruns application and locate the malware file that you want to eliminate.

You should write down its full path and name. Note that some malware hides process names under legitimate Windows process names. At this stage, it is very important to avoid removing system files. After you locate the suspicious program you wish to remove, right click your mouse over its name and choose "Delete".

Delete malware in Autoruns

After removing the malware through the Autoruns application (this ensures that the malware will not run automatically on the next system startup), you should search for the malware name on your computer. Be sure to enable hidden files and folders before proceeding. If you find the filename of the malware, be sure to remove it.

Search for malware and delete it

Reboot your computer in normal mode. Following these steps should remove any malware from your computer. Note that manual threat removal requires advanced computer skills. If you do not have these skills, leave malware removal to antivirus and anti-malware programs.

These steps might not work with advanced malware infections. As always it is best to prevent infection than try to remove malware later. To keep your computer safe, install the latest operating system updates and use antivirus software. To be sure your computer is free of malware infections, we recommend scanning it with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are the biggest issues that malware can cause?

Malware can be designed to encrypt files, inject additional malware, steal sensitive information, add computers to botnets, mine cryptocurrency, etc. The most common issues that victims of malware attacks encounter are monetary and (or) data loss.

What is the purpose of WASP malware?

WASP is an information stealer that steals passwords, credit card details, Discord accounts, cryptocurrency wallets, and personal files.

How did WASP malware infiltrate my computer?

WASP is distributed via fake (trojanized) apps promoted on Discord and TikTok. Also, it is distributed via Python packages containing malicious code.

Will Combo Cleaner protect me from malware?

Yes, Combo Cleaner will remove malware from a computer. This application can detect almost all known malware. Since high-end malware usually hides deep in the operating system, running a full system scan is required to remove such malware.

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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

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